Political Analysis - May 20, 2016

Political Forecast & Review - May 20, 2016

President

Oregon and Kentucky held their party primaries earlier in the week, and once again we see a familiar pattern occurring. Just when Hillary Clinton (D) should be cementing her position as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, remembering she needs to commit only 15.3% of the outstanding delegates to reach the required number of 2,383 convention votes, she again falls to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) in an election.

In Oregon, Sanders scored a 54-46% outright victory. The only late pre-election Oregon poll, from Fox News, forecasted a 15-point Clinton win. 

The former Secretary of State barely placed first in the Kentucky primary, ahead just 1,924 votes of almost 455,000 cast. With 95% of the precinct reporting, Sen. Sanders pulled into the lead but with only four outstanding precincts and other absentee votes that remained, Ms. Clinton rebounded to her tepid lead.

Contrast this performance with that of Donald Trump (R) on the GOP side. The two are in similar positions within their presidential nomination structure. Both are presumptive nominees, but neither has officially clinched the requisite number of delegate votes for a first ballot victory. Since Republicans did not vote for President in Kentucky – they apportioned delegates in a March 5 caucus – Trump racked up a 67% win in Oregon against his moribund political opponents. These are the type of numbers Clinton should be posting, too.

New national polls from Fox News and Rasmussen Reports reveal that Trump has already overcome Clinton’s national lead. Fox finds the presumptive Republican nominee now leading 45-42%, while Rasmussen records a similar 42-37% spread. Ipsos/Reuters, though, still finds the opposite. Their data posts a 41-36% spread in Clinton’s favor.

Senate

New data was released in three states during the past week. In Arizona, another survey, this one from Public Policy Polling, finds further weakness in Sen. John McCain’s (R) re-election bid. The ballot test projects him to only a 42-36% lead over Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-01). The results also reveal Republican primary problems, as the Senator leads former state Sen. Kelli Ward, 39-26%, with two others accounting for the remaining preference vote. If McCain and Ward were isolated, both score 41% support.

Rep. Todd Young (R-IN-09) maintains a 36-22% advantage over former Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-09) in local Bellwether Research’s first general election poll since the early May Hoosier State primary. 

WBUR public radio in Boston conducted a New Hampshire Senate poll, and for the first time in months, Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) tops Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). According to the MassInc data, Hassan maintains only a 46-45% margin. This confirms all other data that projects a toss-up race.

House

Two new retirements were announced during the week, both for unfortunate health reasons.

Hawaii freshman Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI-01) informed the public that his pancreatic cancer has spread and he no longer can seek re-election. The disease was diagnosed last year, and he had surgery in November. Doctors cleared the Congressman to run again, but now his health has deteriorated to the point that he can no longer continue. Democrats will likely retain the open seat, particularly with a presidential election year turnout model, but the district can be competitive.

In southwest Florida, two-term Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL-19) is also stepping down from his safe Republican seat in order to care for his ailing father. This will ignite a crowded Republican August 30 primary. Former congressional candidate and current Sanibel Island City Councilman Chauncey Goss (R) already announced that he will run for the seat. Mr. Goss is the son of former US Representative and CIA Director J. Porter Goss (R). Ex-state Rep. Paige Kreegel (R), who was a candidate in the 2014 special election that elected Clawson, also said he will “probably run” now that the seat has again come open.

Governor

In Oregon, interim Gov. Kate Brown (D) easily won her special election primary. She will now face the former Oregon Medical Association president, Dr. Bud Pierce (R), in the general election. Brown ascended to the Governor’s position when incumbent John Kitzhaber (D) resigned in order to avoid publicizing a scandal. She was then Secretary of State; Oregon has no office of Lt. Governor. She now must run to serve the final two years of the current term, and then would be eligible to run for a full four-year term in 2018. Gov. Brown is a heavy favorite to win this year’s special general election.